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singles/eps - january 2011

Spotlight Kid – All is Real/April (ClubAC30 Records)

Consisting of ex-members of Six By Seven, Echoboy, Model Morning and Bent, this self styled “Nottingham Super-Group” release a double A side treat.

“All Is Real” is an absolutely stunning four and a half minute shoegaze tour de force that would be the likely result of feeding American 90’s dream pop merchants Drop Nineteens amphetamines and then forcing a gun up their noses and making them play like their lives depended on it. “April” meanwhile gives off a hazy sunshine echo vibe reminiscent of My Vitriol and early Chapterhouse. Of Spotlight Kids’ peers, the band share vague similarities with The Horrors’ and “All is Real” does very vaguely sound like “Scarlet Fields” but replaces broody darkness with celebrative expansiveness instead and is a blast of fresh air in these austere times. In any case, it’s obvious both bands worship Kevin Shields, and this is never a bad thing. Best single I’ve heard in a good few months. 9.88888344432/10

Rory McGregor

Audio Conspiracy – Next Life (Next Life)

‘Next Life’ is a fine understated effort from Barrow in Furness’s Audio Conspiracy. It’s got all the hallmarks of atypical Gavin Monaghan produced track, some might say to the point of being formulaic. Editors would definitely be a soundcheck here but there’s also a pleasingly dour Joy Division quality to ‘Next Life’ which elevates it above the mundane. 7/10



Lady Dentist – Why Don’t You Love Me Like You Used To Do (Matchbox)

The (presumably) husband and wife team of Alison and David Lestner seem to perform the kind of electro pop that harks back to the 1980s classics. This track is very Heaven 17 with slightly more spindly vocals. Unlike fellow Leeds electro posters Heads We Dance who have developed their very own glam stamp on the genre, I’m not sure Lady Dentist have really found an opening yet. Still a very tidy, catchy little tune though. 7/10



Cosmo Jarvis – Gay Pirates (25th Frame)

It’s not a cunningly disguised title, this song really is about gay pirates and for the occasion Cosmo has deployed a hearty sea shanty style delivery. Its unusual and heartfelt enough to make a lasting impression. 7/10



XM-3a – Bad Robot Man (New Heavy Sounds)

One man’s epic and monumental is another man’s prog –wank. Actually prog-wank is far too harsh a description for this but I do find it just a little bit plodding and self-absorbed rather than driving and interesting. It’s not doom metal nor is it rock and roll. More like Barclay James Harvest on a bad trip. 6/10



The Death Set – Slap Slap Slap Pound Up Down Slap (Counter)

Noisy oiks The Death Set and this song is no exception, pairing frenetic shouty punk vocals with a hyperactive breakbeat. Throw into the mix an accompanying instructional video to demonstrate the type of handshake which this song is eulogising and it makes two minutes of good solid fun. 7/10


Above The Underground – The Fight We Won

I am desperate to like this. I made the mistake of reading the promo material again. S-a-N pr have some kind of genius writing for them! I don't think he listens to any of the records though.

You put a synth player in a band, he'd better be good otherwise they will make everything sound the same. Above The Underground are a pop-punk band who have a synth player, inexplicably. They've not made any room for him, so it sounds like he's trying to break in. I wonder if they finally relented to have him in the band when they heard Enter Shikari?

What are pretty fun songs are interfered with by some synth. I remember hearing First Time by Biscayne and being blown away by how good it was. I remember that I just knew, simply, that the song was good and everything was there for a reason. I remember thinking that Imogen Heap made me understand why synth can be a good idea. Here I'm trying to find things to write about. Not awful but not doing what music should. (The title track nearly gets it bang on – notably light on synth but when it turns up, it HELPS THE SONG.)

Christopher Carney


Joan as Policewoman – The Magic (PIAS)

This isn’t at all like I was expecting, having heard previous Joan as Policewoman tracks. But it’s still really bloody good. It’s kind of a Justin Timberlake meets Will Young sort of song but given a healthy dose of cynicism by the inimitable Ms Wasser. 8/10



The Liaison - Start from Scratch

While I admire their chutzpah and slippery guitar work, this EP just sounds like another manufactured, Tony and Guy styled power pop effort to me. I can just see the sweat banded wrists of emotional 16 years olds punching the air in unison to this but for a gnarled 30 something like myself it just all sounds the same; clinical, slick but music aimed at the lowest common denominator of acceptability. 6/10



Scarlette Fever – Crash & Burn (Starfisch)

For someone who purports to always take chances and will risk crashing and burning, this track is incredibly conservative and radio friendly. Maybe if Scarlette Fever (aka Karen) took a few more chances musically then this might make more of an impression on me. 6/10



Pendulum – Crush (Earstorm)

Whoop! Whoop! A Pendulum track that I really like. ‘Cruch’ is a little bit more dirty around the edges than most of Pendulum’s stuff – the guitar riff is heavily distorted and the production with the drum track at the start is definitely a bit more lo-fi than the standard slick efforts I’ve come to expect. There’s an ostentatious drum ‘n’ bass rhythm underpinning everything and the acoustic bridge is just the right length so as not to sound too contrived or lighters in the air. 7/10



Sunday Girl – Stop Hey (Geffen)

Well hello. Sultry Sunday Girl (aka Jade Williams – doesn’t it always just seem a bit less exotic when you know their real names?) stirs out from the CD cover in front of her case of dead butterflies like a sexy psychotic entomologist. Is that what people mean by having an ‘iconic look’?
The track itself is a synth heavy stomp which is a little bit at odds with Williams’ wispy voice – it seems at times that she is struggling to make herself heard among the gamut of synths. Like a heavy Ellie Goulding. 6/10



Eliza Newman – Ukulele Song for You (Lavaland)

Apparently this song was number 1 in the Icelandic National radio chart in 2009. It should also be noted that they eat sheep’s brains and fish putrefied in urine in Iceland. It may very well be the case that the press release with this song is more interesting than ukulele/synth/sweet vocal combinations of Newman herself. We also read that her volcano song ‘Eyjafajallajökull’ caused quite a stir by being featured on Al Jazeera, making it ‘one of Al Jazeera’s most popular news pieces ever.’ Really? Either way, it is also the best song on this EP as the lightweight vocal/ukulele combination is joined with sporadic booming drum and synth beats, evoking the very magmatic explosions which the song describes. 6/10



John and Jehn – Down our Streets (Naive)

Beautiful evocative holidaymaking music here from John and Jehn who sound like an upbeat Divine Comedy. In fact it would have been perfect for getting in the Christmas spirit when it was released back in November. Sorry about that wait chaps, better late than never eh?

J&J offer their own idiosyncratic Gallic take on indie pop and it works a treat with both accompanying tracks ‘Sunny Boy’ and ‘Vampire’ firmly hitting the spot. More please. 8/10



Little Comets – Joanna (Dirty Hit)

Yelpy little buggers the Little Comets. A semi-cathartic song here as they opine about the awkward of escaping from the scene of an awkward one night stand. Strange too as first time I heard this it annoyed the hell out of me, especially their constant bleating ‘Joanna, Joanna’. But you know what, now that I’ve heard it a few more times I quite like it, especially the way they’ve combined indie with a ghostly Hawaian-style guitar sound, quite lovely. 8/10



Mike Marlin – Play that Game

Mike Marlin is a bit of an oddity it seems after converting to music following dropping out of a physics course at Oxford. But musically, this track is nothing short of an unabashed Bowie tribute. From the ‘Young Americans’ break down at the outset, through Marlin’s very own Bowie-esque vocal tone and on through the squawking saxophone and right down to the backing vocals. As a massive Bowie fan I should be up in arms about it. But it turns out that it is actually really, really good – it’s complex yet engaging in arrangement and there’s an undeniable warmth about it. Bravo indeed Mr Marlin. 8/10



Ruins of Earth – Ashes of the Ocean

I have nothing but admiration for those who go out and put their energies and spare time into writing, performing and recording music. Doesn’t mean I like it all but I am pretty open minded about most things. And despite the doom and gloom surrounding a release called ‘Ashes of the Ocean’ by a band called Ruins of the Earth issued in a black sleeve with suitable cryptic symbol graphics, I ploughed in regardless. A nice little intro announced the EP, fizzling into existence before some acerbic speed riffs a la Deftones on ampthetamines brashed through the speakers. So far so good. But what is it with these guys who just want to growl down the mic? It’s so bloody dull. I feel sorry for the other band members of Ruins of Earth – the drummer must nigh-on bionic to keep up his hyperactive pace and similarly guitar and bass work are awesomely precise for the speed they are issued at. Does it never occur to any of them to ask the singer if maybe he could try something a bit different on this one, you know, maybe sing alittle. So good yet so bad, it just leaves me feeling short changed. 5/10



Natasha England with Logan – Stop Doing Nothing

It’s difficult to accurately place the sound of this single. On the one hand there is a hint of the 80’s about it – England’s vocals are little reminiscent of Annie Lennox and at times verge a little on the melodramatic. But there’s also a hard underbelly to the four tracks on offer here. Strangely I’d suggest that the ‘lead’ single is the weakest, the best song being ‘Come’ as it most successfully avoids too many nods to the past and most successfully mixes up England’s ethereal vocal quality with a contemporary hard edged electro. 7/10



Tom Tom Club – Genius of Love (Because)

Taken from their upcoming live album ‘Genius of Live’, this single sees the US based new wavers and progenitors of Talking Heads perform live from their home studio for a select group of friends. It’s quite impressive how little this has dated but I still feel it will diverge opinions – you’ll either love it’s funky indulgence or despair at the idea of a loose collective of musicians and sound engineers back patting each other in the comfort of their own studios. 7/10



Hold Your Horse Is – Forgive and Forget (Big Scary Monsters)

I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for this set of loud, shouty buggers from Frimley and Fleet. There’s a lovely rich bass sound on this track and despite giving the impression that this song could spiral off out of control at any moment, their taut, mathy delivery maintains a balanced, if noisy, status quo. 7/10



Nazca Lines – s/t EP (Stressed Sumo)

Great release here for Derby based Stressed Sumo. Seattle-based Nazca Lines deliver raucous slabs of acerbically tinged post-punk shoutiness that doesn’t descend into wanton noisiness but rather lurks like a malcontent on a street corner, waiting to pounce on any unwilling victims. Comparisons with Chicago’s Big ‘n and Fugazi are easy but Nazca Lines do bring their own individual levels of intensity to the table with these three tracks. 7/10



Heathers – Slices of Palama (Aunthill)

A pair of twin Irish sisters singing about some fellow female twins who (inexplicably) they call Palama and Slices – the omens are not good. But Heathers are just so damned weird that you’ll find it hard not to warm to this – it sounds so organic and performed on the hoof, especially the parts where the two sisters have a slight time lag between their vocal parts. It’s either incredibly lucky that it is performed so loosely yet still sounds good or it could be that Heathers are minor geniuses. 8/10



To the Chase – When You Believed

Could this be the first indie-soul cross-over music that we have reviewed on Tasty? If you believe the blurb then yes. But to me it just sounds like mild mannered indie, quite cheery and unassuming actually. The bass sounds a bit farty in places which is mildly annoying, but then the band seem to have pre-empted this by informing us that the bassist is the newest member of the band. That’s thoroughness for you. 6/10



Kris Menace – Phoenix / Triangle (Size)

No relation to Dennis (presumably) but still capable of producing some naughtily good sounds here.This is house music apparently, but definitely at the more trance end of the scale I’d say as I don’t find it completely detestable. In fact I’d go as far to say that I really enjoyed the two tracks on offer here. I don’t think I’d want to try dancing to it in some sweaty club somewhere but it certainly makes excellent background music to listen to while say ironing or mopping, mainly because the three minute introduction to ‘Phoenix’ is far too long before things really kick off. Triangle is a little more upbeat and disco – far more suited to washing up accompaniment than mopping. 7/10



Super Distortion – Resonating World (Pointy Bird)

Big fuzz, power chords, a flute and a digeridoo. Oh yes and it’s nearly nine minutes long. Correctomundo comrades – it has got to be prog. Although Super Distortion may prefer to be labelled as psychedelic folk pop, this is more prog and space rock than Hawkwind. No bad thing necessarily, especially when we are treated to a stylophone solo – let’s rock! 7/10



Nell Bryden – Glory to the Day (Helen’s Requiem) (Cooking Vinyl)

There’s no denying that chipmonk faced chanteuse Nell Bryden has an impressive voice but this turgid pig of a song just slumbers along like leaden albatross around her neck. There you go – three animal analogies in one sentence – that’s how boring I found listening to this vaguely happy-clappy religiously toned song. 4/10



Johnny Get the Gun – Never Far From What We Know EP

This EP was so much better than I was expecting, following our savaging of their debut EP in July 2010. There’s still a couple of tracks which simply cry out ‘filler’ but sandwiching them at either end are some real good tunes and a sign that Johnny Get The Gun are really growing into the description they were previously given of sounding a little bit like muse. Top that comparison, I’d add a bit Manics as well; especially in opening track ‘Good As It Gets’. 7/10



Crushing Blows – s/t EP

If the signs from the debut single ‘Tie Them Down and Get the Answers’ were promising then this EP is a fully fledged stamp of approval. There’s no room to draw breath as the entirely infectious ‘Nightworker’ twinkles into action combining playful harmonies and driving rhythm with a darker undercurrent. ‘Don’t Sweat for Me’ follows in a quick and even more urgent succession – words and instruments swirling in a musical psychosis. ‘Liberate Yourself’ completes this classic trio of pop-noir riffs, inspired by Chris Jones’ unhinged falsetto. There’s even room to squeeze in ‘Tie Them Down and Get the Answers’ to the end of the CD. Search them out and buy this EP immediately – it’s only a couple of quid for untold levels of happiness. 9/10